Category Archives: Environment

Violation Tracker – September 2017 update

Source: Good Jobs First. September 19, 2017

From the press release:
An expansion of Violation Tracker, the first public database of corporate crime and misconduct in the United States, now makes it possible to access details of cases ranging from the big business scandals of the early 2000s during the Bush administration through those of the Trump administration to date. …. The expansion nearly doubles the size of Violation Tracker to 300,000 entries, which together account for more than $394 billion in fines and settlements. As a measure of how corporate crime is concentrated within big business, 95 percent of those penalty values were assessed against only 2,800 large parent companies whose subsidiaries are linked together in the database. Approximately 200,000 smaller businesses account for the remaining five percent of the dollar total. ….

Related:
Agency Data Sources
User Guide and Webinar
Update Log

Fetal death rate in Flint rose 58% after lead crisis

Source: George Diepenbrock, Futurity, September 21, 2017

Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis resulted in fewer babies born there—the result of reduced fertility rates and higher fetal death rates—compared to other Michigan cities during that time, research shows.

Since 2014, Flint—which was once an automobile manufacturing powerhouse outside of Detroit—has faced a major public health emergency due to lead poisoning in the local water supply when the city temporarily used the Flint River as its primary source. The crisis has affected thousands of residents, and some officials in Michigan face criminal charges related to events there. ….

Related:
The Effect of an Increase in Lead in the Water System on Fertility and Birth Outcomes: The Case of Flint, Michigan
Source: Daniel Grossman and David Slusky, University of Kansas, Working Papers Series in Theoretical and Applied Economics, No 201703, August 7, 2017

From the abstract:
Flint changed its public water source in April 2014, increasing lead exposure. The effects of lead in water on fertility and birth outcomes are not well established. Exploiting variation in the timing of births we find fertility rates decreased by 12%, fetal death rates increased by 58% (a selection effect from a culling of the least healthy fetuses), and overall health at birth decreased (from scarring), compared to other cities in Michigan. Given recent efforts to establish a registry of residents exposed, these results suggests women who miscarried, had a stillbirth or had a newborn with health complications should register.

People of color breathe more air pollution

Source: Jennifer Langston-Washington, Futurity, September 17, 2017

People of color are exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, and power plants than whites, a new 10-year study shows. Researchers estimated exposure to outdoor concentrations of a transportation-related pollutant—nitrogen dioxide (NO2)— in both 2000 and 2010, based on neighborhoods where people live and found that disparities in NO2 exposure were larger by race and ethnicity than by income, age, or education. Further, that relative inequality persisted across the decade. While absolute differences in exposure to the air pollutant dropped noticeably during that time period for all populations, the relative difference—or the percent difference between pollution levels to which white people and people of color were exposed—narrowed only a little…..

…..If people of color had breathed the lower NO2 levels experienced by whites in 2010, it would have prevented an estimated 5,000 premature deaths from heart disease among the nonwhite group, researchers say…..

Related:
Changes in Transportation-Related Air Pollution Exposures by Race-Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status: Outdoor Nitrogen Dioxide in the United States in 2000 and 2010
Source: Lara P. Clark, Dylan B. Millet, and Julian D. Marshall, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 125 no. 9, September 2017

From the abstract:
BACKGROUND:
Disparities in exposure to air pollution by race-ethnicity and by socioeconomic status have been documented in the United States, but the impacts of declining transportation-related air pollutant emissions on disparities in exposure have not been studied in detail.

OBJECTIVE:
This study was designed to estimate changes over time (2000 to 2010) in disparities in exposure to outdoor concentrations of a transportation-related air pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in the United States.

METHODS:
We combined annual average NO2 concentration estimates from a temporal land use regression model with Census demographic data to estimate outdoor exposures by race-ethnicity, socioeconomic characteristics (income, age, education), and by location (region, state, county, urban area) for the contiguous United States in 2000 and 2010.

RESULTS:
Estimated annual average NO2 concentrations decreased from 2000 to 2010 for all of the race-ethnicity and socioeconomic status groups, including a decrease from 17.6 ppb to 10.7 ppb (−6.9 ppb) in nonwhite [non-(white alone, non-Hispanic)] populations, and 12.6 ppb to 7.8 ppb (−4.7 ppb) in white (white alone, non-Hispanic) populations. In 2000 and 2010, disparities in NO2 concentrations were larger by race-ethnicity than by income. Although the national nonwhite–white mean NO2 concentration disparity decreased from a difference of 5.0 ppb in 2000 to 2.9 ppb in 2010, estimated mean NO2 concentrations remained 37% higher for nonwhites than whites in 2010 (40% higher in 2000), and nonwhites were 2.5 times more likely than whites to live in a block group with an average NO2 concentration above the WHO annual guideline in 2010 (3.0 times more likely in 2000).

CONCLUSIONS:
Findings suggest that absolute NO2 exposure disparities by race-ethnicity decreased from 2000 to 2010, but relative NO2 exposure disparities persisted, with higher NO2 concentrations for nonwhites than whites in 2010.

A Curated List of Environmental Laws That Both Protect The Environment and Support Economic and Job Growth

Source: USC Schwarzenegger Institute, Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook, 2017

Laws that protect the environment and the health of citizens, while simultaneously supporting economic and job growth, are being passed in state legislatures across the United States. These laws are more important than ever before and, increasingly, the work being done at the subnational level is having an impact on national and global decision making. The USC Schwarzenegger Institute and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators have partnered with one another to create this online resource that will help state legislators throughout America learn from their colleagues in other states. We hope to assist legislators who are interested in advancing smart environmental policies by sharing best practices and actual legislation that is working successfully in a number of states already.

Governor Schwarzenegger has long insisted that voters aren’t interested in Republican air or Democrat air but instead simply want clean air. That belief has guided our thought process when choosing the legislation to include in this database. We believe that lawmakers from both political parties and all 50 states will be able to use this resource to find creative legislative solutions to many of the environmental and public health issues facing the people and communities they represent.

This list, although extensive, is by no means complete. We look forward to expanding the list of legislation shared on this website and encourage you to recommend bills from your respective states that you believe can be helpful to legislators elsewhere in America.

BROWSE BILLS BY CATEGORY:
Air Quality
Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
Human Health
Climate Change

Impact Fee Update and 2017 Outlook

Source: Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office, Research Brief, 2017-3, July 20, 2017

This research brief examines 2016 impact fee collections and natural gas production in Pennsylvania. It also provides an outlook for 2017.
Related:
Stronger drilling and natural gas prices projected to boost impact fees for many local governments
Source: Michael S. Higgins, Orlie Prince, Leonard Jones, Moody’s, Sector Comment, August 2, 2017
(subscription required)

The Impact of Administrative Structure on the Ability of City Governments to Overcome Functional Collective Action Dilemmas: A Climate and Energy Perspective

Source: Richard C. Feiock, Rachel M. Krause, Christopher V. Hawkins, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Advance Articles, Published: 27 June 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Fragmented authority and service responsibilities within governments can impact the design and implementation of policy. Administrative structures can play an important role in mitigating the challenges associated with coordinating activities across independent units within city government. In this study, we use the broad policy arena of sustainability as a testbed to explore “Functional Collective Action” problems and the consequences of cities’ administrative design on the portfolio of policy actions related to energy and climate protection. Empirical analyses of survey data from a national sample of local governments indicate that political institutions, government capacity, and community support influence, to varying degrees, administrative structures related to sustainability initiatives. Our analyses also suggest that these are not inconsequential decisions, since they influence the extent to which cities achieve greater policy integration.

Environment, Equity, and Economic Development Goals: Understanding Differences in Local Economic Development Strategies

Source: Xue Zhang, Mildred E. Warner, George C. Homsy, Economic Development Quarterly, OnlineFirst, Published June 6, 2017

From the abstract:
What role do local governments play in promoting sustainable economic development? This study uses a 2014 national survey to analyze the relationship between local environment and social equity motivations and the kinds of economic development strategies local governments pursue (business incentives or community economic development policies). Municipalities that pay more attention to environmental sustainability and social equity use higher levels of community economic development tools and lower levels of business incentives. These places are also more likely to have written economic development plans and involve more participants in the economic development process. In contrast, communities that use higher levels of business incentives have lower income and are more dependent on manufacturing employment. Other capacity measures do not differentiate types of economic development strategies used. This suggests that sustainable economic development strategies can be pursued by a broad array of communities, especially if the motivations driving their economic development policy include environment and equity goals.

Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth

Source: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), ISBN: 9789264273528 (PDF), May 2017

This report provides an assessment of how governments can generate inclusive economic growth in the short term, while making progress towards climate goals to secure sustainable long-term growth. It describes the development pathways required to meet the Paris Agreement objectives and underlines the value of well-aligned policy packages in mobilising investment and social support for the transition while enhancing growth. The report also sets out the structural, financial and political changes needed to enable the transition.

Acute joint pain in the emerging green collar workforce: Evidence from the linked National Health Interview Survey and Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Source: Samuel R. Huntley, David J. Lee, William G. LeBlanc, Kristopher L. Arheart, Laura A. McClure, Lora E. Fleming and Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 60 no. 6, June 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
Green jobs are a rapidly emerging category of very heterogeneous occupations that typically involve engagement with new technologies and changing job demands predisposing them to physical stressors that may contribute to the development of joint pain.

Methods:
We estimated and compared the prevalence of self-reported acute (past 30 days) joint pain between green and non-green collar workers using pooled 2004-2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data linked to the Occupational Information Network Database (O*NET).

Results:
Green collar workers have a higher prevalence of acute joint pain as compared to non-green collar workers. Green collar workers with pain in the upper extremity joints were significantly greater than in the non-green collar workforce, for example, right shoulder [23.2% vs 21.1%], right elbow [13.7% vs 12.0%], left shoulder [20.1% vs 18.2%], and left elbow [12.0% vs 10.7%].

Conclusions:
Acute joint pain reported by the emerging green collar workforce can assist in identifying at risk worker subgroups for musculoskeletal pain interventions.